The July 24, 2009 “Pickles” comic strip features two older gentlemen sitting on a park bench who have the following exchange:

Earl: “You know what really ticks me off?… Old people who sit around and complain about things.”

Friend: “But You’re an old person and you sit around complaining about things.”

Earl: “I know. And that really ticks me off.”

Ever notice how much time we all spend focused on what we don’t like or what’s wrong with this, that and the other thing?  It is oh-so-easy to be pulled into the “kinship of victimhood,” reacting to day-to-day problems and events. (For more on the “kinship,” see the August, 2008 issue of “The TED* Letter.”)

That same day, in reading an entry in my friend Bonnie’s blog in which she mentions declaring her Tuesdays as “wine-free,” the thought struck:

Let’s declare this and every Wednesday “Whineless Wednesday!”

Practice the discipline of shifting your focus to what you want and care about whenever you find yourself about to whine or complain.  As Harvard psychologist, Robert Kegan, first observed,  behind every complaint is a commitment.  If I complain about inconsiderate drivers, I am doing so because I am committed to being a courteous and safe driver.

So when the whine shows up in your head, don’t let it pass your lips!  Ask yourself, what is the commitment behind my complaint?  Speak to your commitment: “That person’s driving reminds me of my commitment to safe and courteous driving.”  And if you experience someone trying to pull you into the kinship of victimhood, rather than responding by reinforcing the complaint, speak to their commitment: “Gee, I can see that courteous and safe driving is important to you.  It is to me too.”

So make this Wednesday – and every Wednesday – a day of practice and commit to a “Whineless Wednesday!”


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